Friday, November 11, 2011

Heart for Sale

When I lived in New Orleans, some of the women there began a ministry to women working in the sex industry. The ladies involved walk the streets of the French Quarter, building relationships with the dancers in the clubs, the bouncers, and even the club owners. They are doing a beautiful thing by loving these girls where they are, with a gift or maybe just a smile, and blanketing Bourbon Street and the rest of the Quarter in prayer. Their task is not easy. But those girls are worth the risk. 

When I hear the word ‘prostitution’ my mind paints a picture of what I’ve just described: people in dark rooms or on dark streets selling sex for money. We sometimes hear prostitution described as “the world’s oldest profession.” But there are other types of prostitution.
In Genesis 15, God made a binding covenant with Abram. He promised that Abram would give birth to a nation whose people would outnumber the stars in the night sky. God made good on His promise to Abram, and several generations later Abram’s descendants outnumbered the stars in the sky. Exodus 1:7 tells us “the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.”
But as the Israelites became a great nation, they forgot about their covenant with the One True God. They hadn’t so much as gotten out of sight of the Red Sea (remember that one time when y’all walked across on dry land?) when they crafted a golden calf idol to worship while Moses was on Mt. Sinai with the Lord. Over and over (and over) we see the Israelites turning from God in disbelief or impatience and worshipping other things. It’s easy to look back on that and think, “Silly Israelites. Don’t you know that the Almighty God is on your side? I would never be that spineless.”  But oh, we are. And in a thousand more subtle ways.
The more I read of the Old Testament, the more I see the big picture: God provides for His people who promise to love and serve Him forever-- or just until, you know, they forget about that promise. Then they turn to some other idol, and God in righteous anger allows the Israelites to suffer until they return to Him. Over and over the Israelites sell out to other gods. Over and over He takes them back.
God is still doing this for us: He sees us in our sin and redeems us and offers us life with Him. But before long we turn our backs on Him. Some girls prostitute their bodies. So many more of us prostitute our hearts. How many of us seek the applause of others? Our need for the approval of others goes to our very core. We lay our hearts on the line asking of anyone who will listen, “Am I enough for you?” While the One of whom we should be asking these questions waits patiently for us to turn to Him.
Inevitably, we get hurt. Maybe then we turn to God. But soon, we follow the lure of the world away from the safety of His arms, and we get our hearts broken again. I can only imagine how much it pains our Father to watch us cast out our hearts like a fisherman casting his line, waiting and hoping for a bite. We do this over and over, after each disappointment reeling our hearts back in a little more broken, a little more bruised. Can temporary applause satisfy our heart’s longing to be loved unconditionally? Of course not.
 Oh girls, we were created for so much more than what we have become. I think God must weep when He sees His daughters hurting because we have sold our hearts at a price that is far too cheap.
I would not speak about this prostitution of the heart if I was not a repeat offender. Over and over in my own life I have looked for fulfillment everywhere but my Heavenly Father. And I am here to tell you that apart from Him, it is not to be found. True fulfillment, true wholeness, is found in Jesus alone. Not in your boyfriend/husband or your bestie or your mentor. Acts 4:12 tells us, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
So let’s stop selling our hearts to those who mean well but who just cannot meet our soul’s deepest need.  The One who fearfully and wonderfully made us loves us like no one else can. He deserves our hearts. More than that, He wants our hearts. The promise He makes us is one that no one else can make: He will never leave us.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

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